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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - October 27, 2011

From: Ashe Co., NC
Region: Select Region
Topic: Managing Roadsides, Plant Laws, Transplants
Title: Rescue of roadside plants in Ashe Co.
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I live in a wooded area off of a dirt road that is going to be widened and paved by the state. There are many native plants and shrubs growing on the side of the road in areas that will soon be pavement. None are endangered or threatened species. Would it be permissio ble to transplant some of these plants into my yard? (I'm mostly interested in the ferns and low-growing wild blueberries.) I also have one single pink ladyslipper that lives on my property. Unfortunately, it grows a few feet from the current road- so it's time is short. Is there any possible way I can save it? I know digging up ladyslippers is a futile and despicable thing to do in almost all circumstances- but I would really like to save this one. (I don't think the native plant rescuers would come to my remote location to save just one plant.)

ANSWER:

To begin with, you have nothing to lose if you attempt to transplant your Cypripedium acaule (Pink lady's slipper),  which is native to North Carolina. You are correct that it is difficult to transplant, but it is on your property, so even if it were rare or endangered (it isn't) you have every right to do with it what you will. Since it has no chance if it is left in the path of road development, you will at least have tried. From our own archives, read this 1990 Wildflower newsletter that discusses the Pink lady's slipper. Since our Native Plant Database webpage on this plant has no propagation instructions, we went a little further afield and hit pay dirt in this article Transplanting Pink lady's slippers by William Cullina. It is well-illustrated and goes into detail; if any information can help you, this will.

To address your first question, about transplanting from the threatened roadside, that is a little more murky. Roadsides are generally controlled by the state highway departments; they determine what can by moved and why and by whom. We started searching on sites about the North Carolina Department of Transportation and found one that made this statement:

     "No planting on state right-of-way is allowed without written approval from your local NCDOT, Division of Highways, Organization, Operations, Roadside Environmental Unit, Design Section Division office."

After some scratching around, we found this Contact Page for NCDOT District 3 (Ashe and Wilkes Cos). Another place you might at least get some clues on who to talk is the North Carolina State University Extension Office for Ashe County. We hope these clues will at least get you going in the right direction.

 

From the Image Gallery


Moccasin flower
Cypripedium acaule

Moccasin flower
Cypripedium acaule

Moccasin flower
Cypripedium acaule

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